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Man sentenced to 25 years for multimillion-dollar fraud scheme

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Posted at 10:06 AM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 13:06:04-04
Anton Paul Drago was sentenced to 25 years in jail on Wednesday on multiple fraud charges. He must also pay $2.3 million in restitution.
 
Formally known as Evan Fogarty, Drago was convicted in March 2016 of all ten counts of the indictment
 
Drago orchestrated a large-scale Nigerian oil investment fraud scheme. He and his co-conspirator Joseph Rizzuti told investors that the money they invested would be used for legal fees and business expenses to fund the production, refinement, and shipment of crude oil from Nigeria to an oil refinery in the Bahamas.
 
Drago and Rizzuti promised investors a 400 percent return in just 60 days. Unwitting investors gave the conspirators more than $2 million. Drago and Rizzuti used most of the money for personal expenses, such as rent, groceries, golf club memberships, jewelry, travel, and other luxury purchases. $1 million was transferred to unknown bank accounts in China.
 
Drago also attempted to negotiate a fake financial instrument purporting to be an International Bill of Exchange worth $10 million at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Las Vegas. He also lied to IRS agents, claiming that every penny of investor money went to Nigeria.
 
Ultimately, Drago was caught after he failed to file his income tax return. 
 
"That mistake brought him to the attention of the IRS and the scrutiny of CI special agents," said Chief Richard Weber of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI). "Fortunately for the victims of his fraud, the resulting investigation revealed the depth of his fraudulent dealings.”  
 
At the same time he was perpetrating the Nigerian oil scheme, Drago also falsely claimed unemployability compensation benefits from the VA. Though Drago previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps, his claim that he had a debilitating military-related knee injury was false. Evidence showed that Drago was an avid golfer, spending more than $100,000 on golf-related expenses between 2005 and 2008.
 
“Our joint investigation with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation resulted in the conviction of a veteran who defrauded the government by claiming monetary benefits he wasn’t entitled to,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas J. Carver VA-Office of Inspector General’s Western Field Office.  “The money he stole would have benefited other eligible disabled veterans. 
 
Rizzuti testified at Drago's trial and pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy and an unrelated charge of obstructing the internal revenue laws. He was sentenced in May 2013 to 80 months in prison.
 
Drago will also serve five years of supervised release following his prison term.